What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a review of the R-rated comedy that came out in theaters and not the unrated version available on DVD. From the director of Superbad, which stars Twilight's Kristen Stewart, this will definitely appeal to teens. It's not quite as raunchy as Superbad, but there's still plenty of swearing and drug use (mostly pot). You can also expect some drinking, smoking, and sex (more along the lines of heavy makeout sessions than outright nudity). Characters talk about virginity frequently and sometimes mock those who are still virgins.
What's the story?
With his dreams of backpacking in Europe -- and maybe even grad school -- quashed by his family's financial woes, James (Jesse Eisenberg), a virgin pothead, is forced to work at the Adventureland amusement park during the summer of 1987. At first, the job is mind-numbing, the bosses (Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader) inane, and the customers oddly aggressive. But soon the place starts to live up to its name. Broody co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart) catches James' eye, and Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), the sexiest employee at the park, starts eyeing him. But Em may be preoccupied with someone else, and the life questions that James has been avoiding -- Is his father drinking? Where can he go now that he's done with college? -- are nipping at his heels.
Is it any good?
At first, ADVENTURELAND seems cut from the same cloth as director Greg Mottola's Superbad: crude, irreverent, raunchy, nerd-celebratory, and driven by male hormones. And it is all that, to a certain degree. But where Superbad had a heart hidden at its core, Adventureland wears its heart on its sleeve. For all its hipster cred (the Lou Reed- and David Bowie-peppered retro/alt rock soundtrack clues viewers in fairly quickly), Adventureland is primarily a romance. Circumstances are complex, families don't always have the answer, the best friendships can sting, and love strangely trumps most.
James, played skillfully by Eisenberg, is a lot like Say Anything's Lloyd Dobler: sweet, earnest, and not altogether together. He longs to be in love, and though that may rate him a loser in some circles, he's not one here. Unfortunately, Stewart's Em is no Diane Court. Stewart (who filmed this movie pre-Twilight) is adept and believable as her character, but in failing to add layers to her performance, she risks turning Em in to an "edgy, complex girl" stereotype. And why would James be smitten with anything typical? (Plus, their chemistry isn't exactly sizzling.) Ditto Ryan Reynolds as a married maintenance worker who seems to forget that he's supposed to be older -- and act older -- than the college kids he works with every summer. Still, there's plenty in here to enjoy. Though the film won't likely have Say Anything's staying power, it's a decent, entertaining imitator.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about sex and relationships. How do the characters' attitudes about sex compare to those of other "hard-R" teen comedies? Do they seem realistic to you? Why or why not?
What do you think of James' decision to remain a virgin until he meets the "right" woman? What does "right" mean? Why is he portrayed as being so different from his male peers?
Families can also discuss the characters' drinking and drug use. What are the consequences in real life?